5 Things That Running Has Taught Me About Following God

Something terrible happened tonight on my evening run.  If you keep up with my posts about running you might be thinking, “something terrible always happens when you run”.  That’s true.  Over the last couple of years I have had my share of misadventures.  Though I’ve probably consumed thousands of calories through an increased diet of gnats that I encounter on my runs, I have twice in the last three weeks had a little bug fly right into my eye.  I have, on several occasions, gotten overheated and had to call for a ride back home.  Recently, with my longer runs I’m experiencing all sorts of new…um…issues.  Certainly the worst thing that ever happened was the time I almost tore my acl as I attempted (unsuccessfully) to avoid squishing a huge frog that jumped out in front of me.  He came out of nowhere.  It was him or me.

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Today wasn’t that tragic, but it was bad – My headphones stopped working.  About 2 miles in, and halfway through Eminem (read: Taylor Swift), the sound just died and I was completely left alone with my thoughts.  Doesn’t sound bad right?  Wrong!  I don’t like to think when I run.  I like to zone out.  When I do think it tends to be about how I don’t want to run.  But I was stuck 2 miles away from my house so I decided to spend some time praying.

Over the next 20 minutes of prayer time, with only the sounds of light rain and my feet striking the wet pavement, I realized how much running for health mirrors running after God.  Here are 5 things that I’ve really identified over the last several months

  1. Waiting for motivation is for losers.  Motivation is fleeting.  It gets you out of bed on Monday to run 2 miles, but lets you down the rest of the week.  Discipline is KING.  If you want success you have to put in the work especially when you don’t feel motivated.
  2. Discipline + Time = Success.  My favorite quote: “People overestimate what can be accomplished in the short term and underestimate what can be accomplished in the long term” – Someone famous.  Here’s the embarrassing truth.  I went for a run about three years ago.  It took me OVER 15 minutes to run about 3/4 of a mile.  I was so tired and hot (not hot as in good looking, hot as in sweating) that I quit.  I couldn’t even knock out the final 1/4 mile.  It was so humiliating I didn’t run again for weeks.  Then I started back up.  I was motivated.  But like I said it was fleeting and after a month or two I bailed out again.  5 months ago I began running with discipline in mind and committed myself to putting in work.  My first mile was about 12:30.  This week I set my personal record at 7:52.  Too often in life we want to see results now.  That’s the way children see the world.  Walking with God is like any adult endeavor.  Although God changes who you are in an instant, He changes how you are over time.
  3. I’m better when I’m with others.  I prefer running alone, but numbers don’t lie – when I run with other people my time is always faster…even when I’m not trying to increase my speed.  There is something about being around other people that push you in ways you don’t push yourself.
  4. Look forward to hardest parts.  Yea. I said it.  When I first started running I couldn’t wait for the long downhill runs when I could coast easy and improve my time.  I would time my runs to end right when the steep uphill was coming up so I could avoid it.  Reedy Fork has two places where it can be absolutely brutal for runners (heading up towards the elementary school & the hill going to the pool).  Very recently I have found myself not only capable of knocking out these hills, but actually looking FORWARD to them!  Why?  Because anyone can run downhill.  How I handle the challenge is what defines me.
  5. I don’t feel like I’m ‘in’, but it doesn’t matter.  I have friends that are runners.  They put up more “K’s” than the Astros pitching staff (Yea – a baseball reference where I can speak well of my Houston Astros!).  Some of them are marathon runners.  The point is, they ARE runners.  For some reason, I don’t feel like I’m in.  I ran 50 miles last month and I’m on my way to 60 this month.  Maybe I am a runner.  I don’t know.  It really doesn’t matter though.  What matters is that I keep on doing what I need to do.  I realized that I’ve heard from a lot of people over the years that just don’t “feel” like they are the right kind of Christian.  Getting caught up in definitions can really be discouraging.  It’s far more important to just do your thing.

As I was praying tonight I felt like God used that time to really remind me of how far I’ve come, both as a runner and as a follower of him.  The connection of spiritual health to physical health is an easy one, but I believe that God designs metaphors like he designed the universe.  Some things point to the greater things so easily because they are supposed to.

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